Waders allow anglers and hunters to access lakes, streams and wetlands in pursuit of their sport. They offer a convenient way to stay warm and dry while outdoors. Waders also allow biologists to explore aquatic resources. As with any venture into water, safety is paramount. Taking precautions such as studying your surroundings for hazards can make using your waders safe and worry free.
Waders come in several different styles and materials. Your choice depends upon how you will use them, where you will need them and the time of year. Hip waders resemble long boots that come up to your hip. These waders work well in shallow-water conditions. Waist waders come up to waist level and provide extra coverage in deeper waters. Chest waders extend to the chest area. Part of your safety concerns surround the type you use and its material. Materials include canvas, rubber, neoprene, breathable fabrics and nylon.
The common fear of wearing waders is that they will fill with water and drag your head under the water's surface, explains Mark Anderson of Outdoor Canada. One way to avoid this issue is to choose the right type of wader. This means having knowledge of the waters you will be in regarding depth. Even if you use your waders only in shallow water, the concern remains regarding falls. The surface of underwater rocks is likely to be slick. Your hip waders will rapidly fill with water if you misstep and fall to your knees. Chest waders will protect you from most falls that don't send you falling backwards.
An important aspect about wader safety is that as long as you are in the water, waders filled with water will not drag you down. Your weight in waders will approximate that of the water around you. However, if you are wearing several layers of clothing, their weight will add to your load. Your goal is to get to safety without injury. If the shore is close, you can swim to the shore if strong currents are not present. Otherwise, floating on your back with your feet forward will prevent injury from rock or low-hanging trees.
The concerns regarding wader safety increase if you use your waders during the colder times of the year, with the added risk of hypothermia. Hypothermia is a potential life-threatening condition caused by below normal body temperatures, warn the University of Maryland Medical Center. Waterproof fabrics such as neoprene provide a tight fit that is less likely to allow your waders to fill with water, explains Cabelas. Insulating layers can help you retain body heat if water temperatures are frigid.
What you wear under your waders can also protect you from cold-weather conditions. When you dress in layers, you trap heat in between each layer of clothing. For fall hunting or fishing, this can be a welcome option. However, it is essential that you don't constrict your toes with thick socks. Blood must still circulate through your extremities to help you retain heat and prevent frostbite.